Like wandering magicians, the Ali brothers – Raza and Riaz – have worked their culinary wizardry across London’s outer suburbs. They set up a Pakistani café, nurture business, then sell and move on. Mr Chilly very much fits the template.
Set on a busy junction, it looks unremarkable behind its frosted window. Within, plain wooden furniture is cheered up by colourful photos of spices on the walls, but above all by the sensory delights of the stainless-steel open kitchen. Pans rattle, spices sizzle, flames leap.
Meat dominates the starters, and chicken liver tikka was more stew-like, yet tender and abundant. Fish tawa, a modestly portioned tilapia fillet, arrived seared and succulent. Karahi dishes, including plentiful vegetarian food (karela, patra corn, malai kofta) account for most main courses, and both the mutter paneer (the cheese first fried brown) and karahi mixed beans (butter beans and kidney beans) passed muster.
Best were the deigi methi chicken, the deigi spring lamb (both on the bone and bursting with flavour) and the keema biriani that sang with spices. The supporting cast? Breads were sublime, the lassis lacking tang. Staff are especially charming – offering popadoms, yoghurt and a kheer dessert gratis.